I’ve hosted 5 supper club dinners since I launched Khana Commune last year…….and yet, until last week, I’d never attended any supper clubs myself. It’s like opening a restaurant…..having never been to one yourself. Last week found me very unexpectedly in London, a city where supperclubbing is positively thriving — so I had to book myself onto as many events as I could find. With all intentions to go binge supper clubbing, I started writing to as many venues as possible, checking to see if anyone had any last minute cancellations. I got lucky and managed to secure seats at two supper clubs, Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton, and Fernandez & Leluu, in Hackney (why are all the supper clubs in dodgy areas of London?).
The first night found me standing at the door of Arno Maasdorp’s home in Brixton. We were greeted and taken inside by John, a stand-up comedian who has been helping Arno for a long time with his suppers. As my dining partner and I were the first to arrive, we got a chance to speak to Arno in his kitchen; a really sweet, soft-spoken man with an awesome moustache, and an even cooler flat. There are numerous reviews of Arno and his supper club online, so I won’t repeat what most people already know. Very briefly, Arno was a chef for about 22 years before he decided to open his own supper club. Today, he runs two nights weekly, for 16 people at a time. We were sat at a table for 4, where we were joined by a lovely couple who lived in nearby Blackheath. After a bit of small talk, the feast began:
The lamb was cooked PERFECTLY. As much as I extol the virtues of meat and how much off a passionate carnivore I am — of late, I’ve been unable to consume large amounts of meat. It is slowly becoming a turn-off, and unless its just a really incredible great chunk of lamb or beef steak, I can never clean my plate up. Not so much as being a snobby eater who will only eat ‘quality food’ (well what’s wrong with that?) but more because meat-eating is becoming a bit gross, for my digestive system, for the cruelty it inflicts on animals, for the damage rearing animals is having on the planet. That said, I am never becoming vegetarian, I BELIEVE in eating animals – but… my meat consumption has definitely decreased over the years. The point of this long ramble has been that…. I devoured the entire plate of lamb Arno made for me. It was gewwwwd. Essay over.
I got too full too early devouring the delicious sourdough bread Arno purchased fresh from nearby bakery Franco Manca. Even the butter was yummy. When I asked what butter he uses, John replied, ‘Lurpak.’
‘Mixed with smoked sea salt.’
I am so trying that next time I serve bread at Khana Commune.
Small 20-minute breaks in between courses allowed us to really explore his flat, including going up to his study, which also serves as an indoor smoking room, for anyone interested. This definitely isn’t a restaurant that falls within the legal limitations of the law 🙂
From the incredible amount of books lining his walls (many about Hitler, hmmm) to the little vintage knick knacks he furnishes every table and shelf with, I couldn’t stop taking photos of and absorbing his decorating style as much as I did the food. If you go, check out his bathroom, even THAT was fun.
The food was, as expected, impeccable. Also was very impressed to note that he provides a vegetarian alternative to your meal, if you request beforehand. Amazing. 13-16 diners at a time, and he does it all on his own. And his sense of trust is humbling. He let us into every nook and corner of his home really, and at the end of the night, he told us to go get our coats from his bedroom. His bedroom! Imagine letting complete strangers into your bedroom unchaperoned. There is something quite beautiful, so zen and trusting about him that I really liked.
I am so very happy to report: Supper Clubbing is officially awesome. Meeting the chef, snooping around his super cool home (he has original sketches from Tracie Emin on his wall), and just knowing he does this because he loves to….. It makes such a huge difference to the meal. The service is lovely, the ‘waiter’ knows the food he is serving and believes in it. I’m so glad I can say this though, and I feel renewed excitement knowing here on out that with every supper club meal I host, hopefully, my guests are enjoying the experience as much. My only regret now is that Singapore doesn’t have any other supper clubs for me to attend. Get organising people!
Coming up: My visit to Fernandez & Leluu